By Lisa Calcasola
Among those rallying the Fight for 15, a raise in the minimum wage this week, was Jesse Jones. The goal: a $15 an hour minimum wage increase and the right for workers to unionize.
Mr. Jones just started working at Wendy’s fast food restaurant
just a week and a half ago, specifically in order to join Wednesday’s protests as a fast food worker.
“I don’t have much to say,” Mr. Jones began. “See that lady over there? She organized this whole event. You should talk to her.”
“We’ve been doing this thing for a few years now,” he began, referring to the Fight for 15 rallies.
“It just keeps getting bigger and bigger and we’re not gonna stop until we win. We can’t stop.”
When asked what he personally would do with the minimum wage raise, Mr. Jones laughed and
“But really,” he said. “People would do whatever they wanted to do. They’d have more leisure
time to get with friends, or get that iced coffee, or whatever. The point is they’d have more time
to live, instead of just working and sacrificing and feeling like none of it is paying off.”
“I’m thirty-eight years old now. It’s too late for me. But I fight for the younger generation, too, so that you and your kids won’t be in the same position we’ve been in. Students have a lot of problems, too, with increased student loan debt. They’re also forced to take minimum-wage jobs to get by.”
The Fight for 15 marches was deliberately held on Tax Day, on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 (a pun of 4/15 sounding like “For 15”). The rally began on 59th on Columbus Circle near Central park, and the actual march went from Central Park to Times Square, the most quintessential parts of NYC that the media is always reporting on. As protestors marched down the streets, no head went unturned – it was impossible not to be swept into the energy of the night. People had to look at us, to see what all the commotion was about. I was right behind the drums section, which were deafeningly loud and could probably be heard from miles away. Everyone was carrying
mechanical hand-clapping toys and bells to jostle and play with to make as much noise as possible, so they would be “invisible no longer.”
I asked a number of protesters after the event what that extra money would mean for them personally, and all answers came back to the same thing: more time to do with as they wish — more time with family and friends, to watch movies or relax and have a party. Or not having to worry so much about food stamps, not making rent on time, and most importantly, not having to think so much about money. Not having to worry that money is the be-all and end-all dictating life, instead of investing that energy into relationships that will lead to a higher quality of life.